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European stocks climbed for a third day, extending the Stoxx Europe 600 Index’s highest level since July, as U.S. jobs and manufacturing data added to optimism the recovery in the world’s largest economy is gaining momentum.
The number of Americans applying for jobless benefits fell by 14,000 to 351,000 in the week ended March 10, Labor Department figures showed today. Claims reached the same level a month ago, the lowest since March 2008.
Manufacturing in the New York region expanded in March at the fastest pace since June 2010, while Philadelphia factory output grew the most in almost a year.
Gains in Europe were limited today as Fitch said Britain risks losing its top investment grade because of its limited ability to deal with shocks.
National benchmark indexes rose in 14 of the 18 western European markets. Germany’s DAX added 0.9 percent and France’s CAC 40 climbed 0.4 percent. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 declined 0.1 percent as Fitch Ratings said Britain risks losing its top credit grade.
H&M added 2.4 percent to 249.60 kronor after comparable sales advanced 2 percent in February from a year earlier. Same- store sales were expected to drop 1 percent, according to an SME Direkt poll of analysts.
Aixtron rallied 15 percent to 14.40 euros, the biggest gain since October 2008, as Deutsche Bank upgraded the maker of equipment for the semiconductor and lighting-technology industries to buy.
HeidelbergCement AG climbed 5.1 percent to 44.57 euros. The world’s third-largest maker of cement predicted operating profit and sales will rise this year on growth in Asia and Africa and a weaker increase in raw material and energy costs. Net income in 2011 increased 4.5 percent to 534 million euros.
Pernod-Ricard paced declining shares, falling 2.1 percent to 80.38 euros after Groupe Bruxelles Lambert sold 6.2 million shares for 80.60 euros each.
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